Depression is common during and after pregnancy. Women in their first trimester, while hormonal changes are occurring rapidly, are at an especially high risk for depression. Often, the depression is compounded by feelings of guilt for feelings of guilt which comes from the idea that you should be happy when you are pregnant.
Depression or Just Pregnancy Hormones
Very few women are happy throughout their entire pregnancy. The changes in your body which are necessary for your developing baby aren’t easy on you, physically or emotionally. It’s perfectly normal to have mood swings during your pregnancy. Feeling blue for a day or two does not necessarily mean you have depression and is no cause for alarm. If, however, you feel down for weeks at a time of show other symptoms of depression, contact your health care provider for advice regarding depression.
Common signs that you may be clinically depressed include:
- Unexplained feelings of guilt.
- Unexplained feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Constant or debilitating fatigue
- Loss of enjoyment from activities which you generally find pleasurable
- Changes in your eating habits, ranging from loss of desire to eat to constant desire to eat
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme and unexplained irritability
- “Empty” feelings
- Excessive, unexplained crying
- Desire to sleep all day
- Thoughts of suicide
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
Similarity of Symptoms
Determining whether you are dealing with depression can be difficult during pregnancy. Many of the symptoms of depression are also symptoms of a normal pregnancy. You can expect changes in your eating habits, sleeping habits and ability to concentrate even when you are in a healthy, happy pregnancy. If you suspect you might be dealing with depression, it’s best to describe your symptoms with your health care provider to get an objective opinion. Ultimately, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Many women who feel depressed during pregnancy fail to reach out for one reason or another. This can be harmful to both the mother and the baby. In addition to the grueling emotional toll it can take on you, depression can cause or aggravate a number of physical conditions.
Dealing with Depression
There are also a number of things you can do to prevent or manage depression, including:
- Talking about your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one
- Getting plenty of rest
- Bonding with your husband or partner
- Light to moderate exercise
- Eating a balanced, nutritious diet
- Using relaxation techniques (stress ball, prayer, meditation, etc.)
Your doctor may also have a number of suggestions for dealing with depression during pregnancy. These may include seeking therapy or taking anti-depressants.